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Picking a Winner – Part 2

This article continues on from Part 1 – don’t skip ahead – read it here if you haven’t already!

Today’s race is 1600 metres with 10 runners, so I now start to work out my equations. I look to see all the runners have they ran against each other in the previous couple of meetings, or have they ran against the same runner before. This is a good starting point as it can give you an anchor to build your race around, it’s perfect if 2 or more of the runners have ran against each other in the past 2 runs as you can frank that form against each other. If these horses meet each other at the same weight and distance it is easier to line these up. But you can adjust this easily using the weight/length measurement and time/length measurement scales. So we now know horse 5 and 7 raced last week and came 4th and 7th about 3 lengths apart, both at same weight – 55kg – after finding a replay of the race there was no interference on either horse, so horse 5 in theory is a faster horse under those conditions, I now have my initial winner of the race.
I skim through the other runners see if I can find which of the runners have ran the same distance at the same track and same conditions again to match up where the runners may match up. I find all other runners have ran at 1600m – good, that makes it a bit easier, 5 at this track 3 at another track and all have ran the distance on a track condition of soft.
I try to find replays of all races and watch the runners to see if there is anything that may have had an effect on their race, any one of 1000 things can happen that can change the outcome I find a few little things and can make adjustments to the times the horses had ran. So I make my second lot of predictions based purely on the times ran by each of the 10 horses, so after my anchor horse 5 is my base time I put the horses in time order and my race order looks like this 3, 6, 5, 1, 4, 2, 9, 8, 7, 10.
From the times, I now need to adjust the horses based on the weight they will carry. Has it gone up, slowing them down or gone down which will push them faster. They have all had weight adjustments from previous races, some up some down. Using the weight scale over the 1600m I now run my third predicted race outcome, it has it running 3, 5, 9, 6, 4, 2, 1, 10, 8, 7.
I have a very quick look to see who is riding and the trainer. I check the strike rate of both the jockey and trainer at the track as individuals and as a combination. I keep this in mind as like any other athlete, jockeys can have hot and cold streaks. I try to find any news reports of a trainer saying he is aiming a horse at future race – I tend to take it out of calculations as its likely they will use the race as a trial and fitness test and a win is simply just a bonus.
Once I have watched as many replays as I can and have lined up the jockey and trainers strike rates at the tracks distance and condition, I move on the the next part. I go back a couple of steps to the speed maps. I have plotted how the horses will jump and how they will settle after the initial 200-400 metres. Once they have found their order there is generally little or no change to how they sit until the final 600 metres. The front runners will dictate how the race is run do they go hard and try to burn the field off or do they try to get a couple cheap easy sectionals out in front and then use their track position to beat them to the line. In a short race you do see them often try to burn them off but in the longer races they have to try to catch that break or they will get run down. I find the runners top speeds and average speeds for the closing 600 metres of a race and from there with my speed mapping of the early race and the settled period I try to predict how they will run that last home stretch. I take into consideration so many things – the 6 horse from its barrier has sat 3 wide most the way round, does it have the juice left to make its run, does the 8 horse who has sat behind have the chance on this track with such a tight turn to get the split between the 9 and 10 horse? This is where so many of the variants come in to play, how far into a preparation are the horses – are they fit on the 3rd or 4th run or near the end on their 7th or 8th run in the series.
I look for a subtle change, like the gear changes – did a horse get a little spooked last run with horses around it then when got clear running ran on well, did they put blinkers on this time as it will help this horse give it tunnel vision so it won’t be spooked this time. How well have they carried the weight form here, is it a big strong horse or a smaller horse that won’t carry as well.
In general as the field comes to the home turn they seem to bunch a little. This is to do with the jockeys trying to put their horse in the best spot they can to be able to attack the line. They start their runs home and so I put my best case scenario on the table. All the horses get the run they should, I’ve adjusted their speeds to the weight, and their fitness levels. I’ve looked at how well a jockey has been riding, the track condition, how did they run and settle at the start, did they have to burn juice to get the sit, have they had a breather mid race. I have to picture the race being run and won in my head using all the possible data that there is for me to use.
I run the simulation through my mind and on paper. I’ve plotted how they start and how they should settle and finally how they will finish the race. There is always a bit of wriggle room and I try to allow for any minor hiccups, a slight hesitation or bump as they happen. I need to allow this when I make a selection so that when I back something in there is no doubt in my mind and in my calculations that it will win. Now this doesn’t guarantee that my selection will win. Its gambling and some of those crazy things can happen. Horses miss the jump, jockey misread the tempo of the race or the horse gets boxed in and can’t get a run. There is no exact science to picking a horse, there are so many variables but there are certain stats that we simply can not deny and I base a lot of my form around those with the barrier draw and weighting of the horses.
Oh, almost forgot and its pretty simple too – forget the price of a horse because it means nothing to this theory. I do not care if a horse is paying $2 or $35, if the form adds up; back it. Never look at the prices until you place the bet. How many times have you gone through and thought ‘Nah, it cant win – its a $20 shot’. The $2 favourite is almost unbeatable, then the $20 shot wins. Horses do not know their price, they don’t know they are not expected to win they are there to run as fast as they can when the jockey says go.
The third and final theory I run with is only done once. I have done all the form above and it becomes a price based selection, once I have made my way through the form and can not find a clear winner I check what price some of the horses are in my predicted top 3-4. If they are the three top priced runners at $3, $4 and $5 I won’t touch it, but if in those top three I have one in there at big odds $20+ then I am betting against the market. I have found that I have an edge, and that this horse should have a price of no more than $5 but for whatever reason it has no love in the market. I love these bets and in all seriousness they are where you make your biggest gains in betting. When you find one of these, yes it may lose – but it is no different to backing the $3 favourite.
There are ways to shortcut the form if you’re in a hurry and looking for something that has a good chance of winning – look for a runner in the first 4 barriers, carrying the least weight, you can quickly compare horses for the track distance and time ran in a matter of seconds and can make a quick call from there.
Hope this sheds a little light on how I pick a winner and often a loser – but this is the theory behind it and this is the amount of time that is needed to put in to find constant winners.
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